November 25, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
37°F

Business Beat: Time for new goals as old ones are met

By MARIA KACIK

Staff Writer

Six years ago, the Medina County Economic Development Corp. set a list of goals for business and Medina County. Now that each of the goals is either completed or nearing completion, it’s time for the MCEDC to see what’s next by revisiting its strategic plan.

Jim Doutt, executive director of the MCEDC, explained that after the last strategic plan was completed in 2002 he wanted to take an in-depth look at what Medina County has to offer businesses. He explained: “I started to do what I guess you can call an audit of our competition. ‘What are they doing that we haven’t done yet?’ ”

Doutt said he came up with a list of core initiatives that included the creation of the Medina County University Center, the Medina County Port Authority, Innovation Park in Lafayette Township, four foreign trade zones throughout the county and a fiber-optic ring around the county.

All of those have been completed, except for the fiber-optic ring. Doutt said the Port Authority is in the process of selecting a contractor to build the ring, which could be completed in the next few years.

The core initiatives “are all things that are all presently part of our economic development menu of services that weren’t here six years ago,” Doutt said. “We need to take a real strategic look at what this organization needs to be doing to maximize the existence of those core initiatives and capitalizing on what they were created to do.”

In April, a steering committee comprised of past presidents of the MCEDC met to begin discussions on a five-year strategic plan.

The committee includes Gary Hallman, CEO of Medina General Hospital; George Paidas, retired regional president from FirstMerit Bank; Frank Festiof Rea and Associates; Jim Ruhlin, CEO of the Ruhlin Co.; Dan Sondles, chief legislative officer for the Westfield Group; and Ron Paydo, president of all the FirstMerit banks in the Old Phoenix region.

The committee is chaired by current MCEDC President Will Koran of the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center.

Doutt said the committee came up with six areas of focus for the strategic plan. The areas include funding, work force development, business retention and expansion, relationships with outside organizations, MCEDC’s relationship with the Medina County Port Authority and centers of excellence.

Doutt explained the centers of excellence will look at “different business sectors that there’s a real potential for Medina County to serve as a central focal point of the development of those businesses.”

A committee for each of the areas of focus was created and business leaders from throughout the county were selected as chairs for the panels.

Over the summer the committees will meet and discuss what needs to be done in their respective areas. “What I’ve wanted them to do is come up with an action plan,” Doutt said. “What we’re asking them to do is come up with a strategic vision in their area of focus and then a set of action steps that could reasonably be taken in the next years to accomplish that vision.”

In late September, the different committees will meet with the steering committee of past presidents to present their findings. Through October, Doutt said, the steering committee will “tweak the plan” and then present it to the MCEDC executive committee at the end of the month. The executive committee will present the plan to the MCEDC board of trustees at its November meeting and then “we will roll it out at the beginning of the year,” Doutt said.

“It’s pretty aggressive, but I think we can do it. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. We just need to readdress the strategic plan, given the core initiatives are in place,” he explained.

Doutt said the plan will be revisited by the MCEDC two or three years after it is implemented. “We can’t just put a strategic plan out there and set it on a bookshelf. It’s got to be action-oriented,” Doutt said.

New marketing team

Creativity To Go, a three-person marketing team in Medina, has been selected to produce a major marketing campaign for John Deere of Cary, N.C.

The Medina group is helping John Deere Consumer and Commercial Equipment as it launches a new line of agronomic golf course maintenance products that include seed, fertilizer, chemicals and accessories.

Tom Byerly, president of Creativity To Go, explained John Deere recently entered the agronomic field and needed marketing assistance from a company that has expertise in the field. They turned to Creativity To Go, which had done marketing for an agronomic company that John Deere recently purchased.

“We had a depth of knowledge in that industry that they didn’t have in-house at that time,” Byerly said Tuesday.

Creativity To Go created trade publication advertisements, direct mailings, in-store marketing initiatives, brochures and more for John Deere.

The firm’s campaign for the company began this year and will extend through 2009. In addition, Creativity To Go has been designated as a John Deere preferred creative services supplier to partner with other John Deere departments and is working on other marketing initiatives with the company.

Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or business@ohio.net.